Ok, so I do realise that travelling solo isn’t for everyone and I totally respect that.
BUT… if you’re open to the idea, here’s my take on why everyone should give solo travel a go.
Solo travel provides time for self-reflection and gaining a greater level of self—awareness away from your day-to-day life and other people. It’s the perfect opportunity to consider who you are as a person without the influence of family, friends, partners, work colleagues etc. It’s a valuable chance to learn about yourself including what you like and don’t like and an opportunity for self-reflection.
- You don’t have to think about anyone else (yes, they call me selfish Ange for a reason). When I’m travelling by myself I feel like I have the choice to do what I want.
- Ultimate FREEDOM! I talked about this in my article about why everyone should travel but I want to re-emphasise that when I travel I feel free and independent…even more so when I’m travelling solo.
- You come across as more approachable, making it WAYYY easier to meet new people.
- You are likely to be more immersed in the experiences you’re having, instead of being distracted by chatting to a mate. When travelling solo, you’re more likely to be in the moment (they call that mindfulness).
But what about the downsides of solo travel?
Ok, so I realise that solo travel isn’t all rainbows and butterflies (yes, Maroon 5 reference intended). Let me tell you some of the ’not-so-great’ aspects of solo travel. I have also included a list of solutions for each of these potential objections and challenges.
For starters, the thing I that find most challenging about solo travel is eating alone
So unfortunately (and fortunately for some) this does happen sometimes when you are travelling solo. Here are my top tips for managing this challenge while travelling
– Bring a book along to your meal
– Check out couchsurfing / Meetup / Travello to meet up with other travelers and locals
– Eat at a pub and sit up at the bar
– Join an international community or organisation based on one of your hobbies. These groups are often extremely welcoming and love to have foreigners join in to their meetings/events etc. Examples include:
– Toastmasters – Public Speaking (I recently went along to a Toastmasters meeting in Seattle which was an amazing experience. The club was extremely welcoming and glad I came along)
– Rotary International – Community Services
– Yoga communities
What if I feel lonely while travelling by myself? I think I prefer to share the experience with someone else
Ok, I have multiple solutions to this one so get comfy…
– Hosteling – in my experience, hosteling is hands-down the best way to meet people while you’re travelling. Get chatting to someone in your dorm room, the bathroom or the communal kitchen or dining room.
– Call home – or even better, FaceTime/Skype/Video call home. Not only will this help beat any loneliness, it will also make your friends and family back home SUPER jealous of your adventures.
– Strike up a conversation with a random – sit at the bar in a local pub, start chatting to someone at the bus stop, ask a question to someone while waiting in line to order food.
– See solution for challenge number 1 – there are some great suggestions there.
– Distract yourself – keep yourself busy by being in the moment and focus on where you are. Pack your day full of activities and exploring the place you are visiting.
I don’t feel safe by myself. You’ve heard the saying “safety in numbers right?” well yeah, I suppose it can be true sometimes.
Keep your wits about you, pay attention to what’s going on. You can also meet people along the way and buddy up to do adventures together like explore crazy cities together or hike in bear country. This often happens to me when I’m staying in hostels and I’ve made many new friends this way. I’m currently creating a mini-course on safety while travelling so stay tuned.
I need to use the bathroom – how do I do that? So you’re carrying all your stuff around, you’re sitting waiting for a bus or a train or whatever and the worst thing happens… you need to go to the bathroom (toilet/washroom/restroom/whatever you want to call it).
Pack all your valuables in the one bag (passport, money, laptop etc.) and make sure you keep this with you at all times.
Step 1 – Look around the area and suss out the people around. Observe for as long as you need to and pick out someone who appears to be trustworthy (yes this is a risk but trust me, most people are 100% fine).
Step 2 – Respectfully get their attention and ask something like “Excuse me, would you mind watching my bag for a minute while I go to the bathroom? 9 times out of 10 then they will agree to watch your bag and continue whatever it is they were doing before you interrupted them.
Step 3 – Grab your bag with your valuables and run (well walk briskly) to the closest bathroom and do your business
Step 4 – Get back to your bags and gratefully thank the person who agreed to watch your bags
Step 5 (optional) – Strike up a conversation if they seem cool to talk to
Worst case scenario is that someone runs away with your bags and you get to go shopping to buy a whole new wardrobe 🙂
Best case scenario is that you become buddies with the person who kindly watched your bags for you. This totally happened to me while I was waiting for a flight from Vancouver to Auckland (New Zealand) in January 2016. I got chatting to my new friend Craig and he offered to take my mum and I through the glowworm caves on his property in Waitomo – woohoo!! I actually have plans to meet up with him and his girlfriend in London this New Years Eve – how cool is that?
I don’t know whether I’ll like it or not.
Do a little trip to get a taste tester. Spend a weekend away! You can also break up your trip and do a section with a friend and a section by yourself.
And if you still can’t possibly bear the idea of solo travel, stayed tuned for one of my upcoming articles providing tips on choosing a travel partner.
Have other concerns with solo travel? Feel free to share in the comments below and I will do my best to come up with a solution. 🙂
Thank you for reading and happy travels,